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  1. #1
    A49
    A49 is offline

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    What is the biggest, perfectly sharp format you can get from your sharpest negatives?

    Hello everybody,

    the question sounds simple but easily provokes misunderstandings. "Sharp" in the sense of my question means that you can look at your print from as close as possible and still see a tack sharp image while most critically inspecting it. So that you could say: "If I would enlarge this negative to a smaller size it would not become sharper." Grain and tonality problems that come with big prints are of no interest as long as the grain does not become too obviously and takes over as a reference for the perceived sharpness.

    It would be interesting if you not only mentioned your negative format and the maximum print format but also some technicals dates regarding the conditions under which you made your "perfect" negative. For instance camera and lens type, used aperture, film and developer, exposure time and if you shot with flashlight and with or without tripod. My question is not meant as a competition but to gather some experiences about different techniques and their potential for enlarging.

    Kind regards,
    Andreas

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    Hard to answer in objective terms, at least for me. Too many of the factors you describe (I understand the question) are not quantifiable, but mostly perception, which is subjective. Although you and I can look at something, discuss, and agree on these things, I don't know how to express them verbally only.
    One of my best images, in terms you describe, is an image of a telephone pole, up close, with a background too hard to describe. It was taken with yellow filter, strong cross sun lighting, blue sky in the background. It was taken with the same view camera, lens, film, etc. that many others have been taken with, but it stands out in the way you describe more than most of my other images. So why? Maybe the confluence of subject, lighting, who knows what else.
    There could be a lot to say about this, but too much to type.

    Let's see what others post.

  3. #3
    Greg Davis's Avatar
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    30x40 inch print from 8x10 Kodak TMY-2 printed with Schneider 240mm Componon shot with Schneider 300mm APO-Symmar. I may get a larger print, but my enlarger doesn't go higher than 30x40 inches.
    www.gregorytdavis.com

    Did millions of people suddenly disappear? This may have an answer.

    "No one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." -Matthew 24:36

  4. #4
    23mjm's Avatar
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    A49 you are overly obsessed with sharpness. Subject, Composition, & Light make a good photograph sharpness doesn't.

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    Hopefully, 55"x72" from 4x5 Fuji 160S (which is yet to be shot with rented Sinar equipment and developed by a pro lab two countries away...). Lens intended for this printing feat is a pristine Rodagon-G 210mm, and the negative is to sit in AN glass holder. All will be cleaned with anti-static brushes and take place in a slightly more humid room. As far as optical printing goes, "G"/"APO", "AN", "anti-static" and "humidity" apparently must be part of the equation which is to have "biggest" and "perfectly sharp" as the end result. I just started building a 60"x72" processing pipe from cardboard, paper tape, epoxy, polyurethane and talc, as well as arranging set building and painting, models and wardrobe, planning a lighting scheme and talking to gallerists about the exhibition.
    But do get a heavy tripod. Sachtler tripods are pretty good.

  6. #6
    David William White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A49 View Post
    ...
    Grain and tonality problems that come with big prints are of no interest as long as the grain does not become too obviously and takes over as a reference for the perceived sharpness...
    Andreas
    Grain can stand in and provide the 'anchor'. Kind of the forest/trees thing.

    But yeah, with my Agfa Clack (6x9 cm), anything other than contact prints look unfocused. With my 40mm Rokkor on my Bessa, I'm happy doing 11x14, and with my Mamiya TLR, 16x20 still looks sharp & could probably go larger. Those would be handheld. Hope that helps.
    Considerably AWOL at the present time...

    Archive/Blog: http://davidwilliamwhite.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Andreas

    Your actual negative resolution divided by 7 lp/mm will give you the maximum magnification factor for your enlargement, because 7 lp/mm is the average resolution limit for the human eye at minimum viewing distance (10 inches). However, who looks at a large print from 10 inches away? Only print judges and CSI agents (keep them away from your prints).

    A more reasonable assumption is that a print is viewed from a minimum distance, which is equal to the print's diagonal. That means, if an 8x10 print is sharp beyond human detection, any other size print is equally sharp as long as it is viewed from that minimum viewing distance. Anything else is bit obsessive!
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  8. #8
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Here's an interesting discussion on the topic...

    http://thomasbirke.com/post/43637653...inal-equipment
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by A49 View Post
    Hello everybody,

    the question sounds simple but easily provokes misunderstandings. "Sharp" in the sense of my question means that you can look at your print from as close as possible and still see a tack sharp image while most critically inspecting it. So that you could say: "If I would enlarge this negative to a smaller size it would not become sharper." Grain and tonality problems that come with big prints are of no interest as long as the grain does not become too obviously and takes over as a reference for the perceived sharpness.

    It would be interesting if you not only mentioned your negative format and the maximum print format but also some technicals dates regarding the conditions under which you made your "perfect" negative. For instance camera and lens type, used aperture, film and developer, exposure time and if you shot with flashlight and with or without tripod. My question is not meant as a competition but to gather some experiences about different techniques and their potential for enlarging.

    Kind regards,
    Andreas
    Step 1: Get a large format camera
    Step 2: Contact Print
    Step 3: Stop worrying about sharpness. You wont have to deal with loss of sharpness and big grain if you contact print big negs

    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  10. #10
    hpulley's Avatar
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    I'm a sharpness freak too and I'm guilty of taking pictures because I'd enjoy viewing an 11x14" print from too close to admire the sharpness. I printed one such print yesterday, Canon FTbN, Canon 35mm f/2.0 SSC II (concave front element thorium element), Ilford PanF+ souped in DD-X 1+4 9:00, printed on Ilford MultiGrade WarmTone. Oh, the subject? Yes, a row of straw bales with snow on top, farm in the background. You can easily see the individual strands of straw and binding, the snow has a wonderful texture, there is no grain to be seen anywhere even with a large enlargement, using the whole page so it was in fact a crop. Old EL Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 enlarging lens at f/5.6 because the warmtone paper is really slooooow.

    Honestly shooting PanF+ with a sharp lens like that makes me wonder sometimes why I'm shooting medium format now. I see more grain in Delta 100 120 enlarged to the same 11x14" size than PanF+ 50 135. Of course PanF+ 120 is even better but when I can't see the grain in 135 size already it is getting silly. I really need to enlarge beyond 11x14" to really exploit MF I think.

    Crummy digital camera picture of the print doesn't do it justice:

    Hay bales 11x14 print by Harry Pulley, on Flickr
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

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